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It Pays To Know What You Can Claim This Year, Apprentices…

With more than a quarter of Australian employers currently having an apprentice or trainee on the books, it’s important that these young individuals understand what they may be able to claim work-wise on their tax returns this year (and that they should be preparing for it sooner rather than later).

Car Expenses

You can claim a deduction for the cost of travel while performing your duties. This includes travel between different work locations, including for different employers. Normal trips between home and work are private in nature and can’t be claimed. This applies even if you:

  •  live a long way from your usual workplace, or
  • have to work outside normal business hours (eg weekend shifts).

In limited circumstances you can claim the cost of trips between home and work, where:

  • you had shifting places of employment (that is, you regularly worked at more than one site each day before returning home)
  • you were required to carry bulky tools or equipment for work and all of the following conditions were met
  1. The tools or equipment were essential for you to perform your employment duties and you didn’t carry them merely as a matter of choice.
  2. The tools or equipment were bulky – meaning that because of their size and weight they were awkward to transport and could only be transported conveniently by the use of a motor vehicle.
  3. There was no secure storage for the items at the workplace.

If you claim car expenses, you must:

  • keep a logbook of your work trips, or
  • be able to show us your claim is reasonable if you use the cents per kilometre method (for claims up to 5,000 km only).

An important note to make is that your vehicle is not considered to be a car if it is a vehicle with a carrying capacity of:

  • one tonne or more, such as a ute or panel van
  • nine passengers or more, such as a minivan. In these circumstances (eg if you use a ute) you can claim the proportion of your vehicle expenses that relate to work – such as fuel, oil, insurance, repairs and servicing, car loan interest, registration and depreciation.

You also will need to keep receipts of your actual expenses.

You cannot use the cents per kilometre method for these vehicles. While it is not a requirement to keep a logbook, it is the easiest way to show how you have calculated your work-related use of the vehicle.

Self-education Expenses

You can claim a deduction for self-education expenses if your course relates directly to your current job – for example, your apprenticeship course. You can also claim a deduction for the cost of travel from your home to your place of education and back, or your workplace to your place of education and back. You must keep records of your travel expenses to claim a deduction.

You can’t claim a deduction if your:

  • study is only related in a general way or is designed to help you get a new job. For example, if you’re an apprentice carpenter you can’t claim the cost of study to enable you to become a builder.
  • Your employer pays your apprenticeship course fees outright or reimburses you upon completion of your course.

Tools & Equipment Expenses 

You can claim a deduction for tools or equipment you are required to buy for your job. If you also use the tools or equipment for private purposes, you can’t claim a deduction for that use.

For example, if you have a toolset that you use for private purposes half the time, you can only deduct 50% of the cost. If the tools or equipment are supplied by your employer or another person, you can’t claim a deduction.

If a tool or item of work equipment you only used for work:

  • cost more than $300 – you can claim a deduction for the cost over a number of years (depreciation)
  • cost $300 or less – you can claim an immediate deduction for the whole cost.

Clothing Expenses

You can claim a deduction for:

  • the cost of buying, mending and cleaning uniforms that are unique and distinctive to your job – eg a uniform your employer requires you to wear.
  • protective clothing your employer requires you to wear – eg hi-vis vests, steel-capped boots and safety glasses.

You can’t claim a deduction for plain clothing worn at work, even if your employer tells you to wear it or you only wear it for work (eg workwear or tradie wear that is not designed to provide you with sufficient protection from the risk of injury at your worksite)

You may be able to claim other work-related deductions:

  • protective equipment such as sunscreen, sunhats and sunglasses
  • union and professional association fees
  • phone expenses if you have to make phone calls or send texts for work.

Remember that you can only claim part of the expense that is work-related in this instance.

If you have any concerns or questions about your upcoming tax return, you can come and consult with us – we’re equipped to assist you in all tax-related matters.

If you’re someone who often finds it difficult to make large lump sum payments for goods or services, you may want to consider looking into “Buy Now Pay Later” services.

Buy now pay later essentially means that, rather than paying in a full lump sum payment for a product or services rendered, there may be an option to pay through instalments of a certain amount over a set period to make the sum of the full amount in total. This method should allow you to pay in full for the product or service without overly straining your finances – you pay back what you can, as agreed upon when you begin the buy now pay later service.

Some popular buy now pay later services include Afterpay, Zip Pay, Brightepay, and some credit card networks such as  Mastercard and Visa, can offer buy now pay later arrangements.

Though it can be a convenient, immediate solution, it may be challenging to juggle the necessary repayments with other financial commitments. It’s not always the most appropriate method for people, and you should bear in mind your situation and ability in paying back the amounts. 

Before you sign up, keep in mind: 

  • It becomes easier to overspend with buy now pay later services, so know your limits on what you can and can’t afford.
  • You will be charged fees and costs to use the service, which can add up to a princely sum in and of itself.
  • Keeping track of your payments can be tricky if you’ve signed up for multiple services.
  • It could affect your loan applications for a car or mortgage as lenders consider buy now pay later spending just as much as your credit score.
  • Late repayments can appear on your credit report, which affects your ability to borrow money in the future.
  • Layby can be a cheaper alternative to buy now pay later, with no account-keeping or late fees to consider

If you are someone who could make use of BNPL services, you may wish to:

  • Ensure that when using the BNPL service, you stick to a set limit on what you spend so that you can comfortably pay it back later. 
  • Aim only to have one BNPL account at a time to manage payments through, rather than confuse yourself with multiple payments across different providers.
  • Always budget for bills, loan payments and BNPL payments, and 
  • Rather than use your credit card for payments to your BNPL account, consider linking to your debit account instead.

If you would like assistance in planning your financial future, help in managing your budget or some friendly advice, see us for a chat about what we can do for you.

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John Briggs

Jane Noller has been my accountant for the last 15 plus years. I can testify to Jane’s professionalism and expeditious manner in dealing with the day to day issues that surrounds our business accounting.

John Briggs

Registered Building Certifier